Myelination, the insulating ensheathment of axons by oligodendrocytes, is thought to both optimize signal propagation and provide metabolic support. Despite the well-established physiological importance of myelination to neuronal function, relatively little is known about the myelination of GABAergic interneurons in the cerebral cortex. Here, we report that a large fraction of myelin in mouse cerebral cortex ensheaths GABAergic interneurons, reaching up to 80% in hippocampal subregions. Moreover, we find that a very high proportion of neocortical and hippocampal parvalbumin (PV) interneurons exhibit axonal myelination. Using a combination of intracellular recordings and biocytin labeling of ex vivo human neocortex, we also confirm that axons of fast-spiking PV interneurons are extensively myelinated in the human brain. PV interneuron myelination in both mice and humans exhibits a stereotyped topography with a bias towards proximal axonal segments and relatively short internodes (∼27 μm) interspersed with branch points. Interestingly, myelin-deficient Shiverer mice exhibit an increased density and more proximal location of en passant boutons, suggesting that myelination might function in part to regulate synapse formation along PV interneuron axons. Taken together, fast-spiking interneuron myelination is likely to have broad implications for cerebral cortex function in health and disease.

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Cerebral Cortex
Department of Psychiatry

Stedehouder, J., Couey, J. J., Brizee, D. (D.), Hosseini, B., Slotman, J. A., Dirven, C., … Kushner, S. (2017). Fast-spiking Parvalbumin Interneurons are Frequently Myelinated in the Cerebral Cortex of Mice and Humans. Cerebral Cortex, 27(10), 5001–5013. doi:10.1093/cercor/bhx203